In June 1997, as I said before, I sailed as a crew member on the English yacht Ocean Dream from Tahiti, Papeytey harbour, to Rarotonga, Avarua harbour.
At the time it did not come to mind but now, writing this down some 13 years later, I realise that I was actually living my style of 'Vagabond des Mers du Sud', the book written by Bernard Moitessier that sent many teenagers of my generation to sea. There, as a crew on this yacht, I really was a tramp of the South Seas, without hardly any belongings, often going hungry and doing a variety of odd jobs just to keep sailing.
On board Ocean Dream the agreement had been that I would pay for my food. I hadn't been able to bargain on this issue as this yacht was my last hope in Papeytey, after having left my job in the Tuamotus. At least I was going to eat and sleep somewhere, and sail. My job was specifically to do some child minding of the 3 year old son on board and also to organise all the cooking and feeding of the 4 adults, as well as do my share of watch.
All this suited me. The problem though was the relationship I was going to have with the other members on board. Somehow I felt ill at ease and totally alien to them. They were true 'Anglosaxons' and I was French. Everybody was terribly polite but distant and totally uninterested in me, my life, my personality or my education. I guess that is the game, you're just an employee except that you have to pay for your food. I was definitely ill at ease and even somewhat stressed. In the week of sailing between Papeytey and Rarotonga I developed a sore throat and I had my periods. When we moored in Avarua it had turned into proper tonsilitis. I felt rotten and weak. I didn't even go on land to explore and see the island. My job was to manage the food, so I did just that, prepared stews and dishes for the next passage.